Letters From a Pastor to His People

  • 07 June 2020 | By

    Letters from a Pastor to His People- June 7, 2020

    Dear Parishioners,

    It's really important that we read and reread this short first reading from the Book of Exodus.  Let it form our mind.  Let it help our understanding of God.  We need this proper knowledge of the Lord if we are going to navigate the complexities of our moral and spiritual life.

    Moses returns up to Mount Sinai and Yahweh reveals another title by which he can be called: Lord.  I don't know about you, but I like using this title, Lord, for God.  Yes, I certainly use other titles when I pray and when I'm in relationship with God: Jesus, Father, friend, brother, Spirit.  'Lord' doesn't give me a sense of fear or servility in a bad way.  I like 'Lord' because it emphasizes for me that God is the one in control, not me.  He is guiding my life, he has a plan for me—a plan that is better than anything I could concoct—and that it is to my advantage to simply surrender to him.  Remember that "Surrender Novena" we prayed a few months ago?  The title 'Lord' is all wrapped up in that.

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St Joseph the Tekton

Letters from a Pastor to His People- December 29, 2019

Dear Parishioners,

Saint Joseph is often in the background of Nativity Sets and we know little about him, so let's reflect a little on "the second greatest saint." 

We can surmise Joseph was a man of moderate wealth.  He and Mary could not afford a lamb for the presentation of their son in the temple—they sacrificed two pigeons instead.  And yet, after Joseph's early death, there is no record of Mary working.  Joseph had earned enough in his life so that Mary did not need to work.  Also, they made the trek up to Jerusalem each year for Passover and other festivals.  These trips were not cheap.  But they rode in a caravan, since they could not afford their own protection from highway bandits. 

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Oh Come Oh Come Emanuel

Letters from a Pastor to His People- December 22, 2019

Dear Parishioners,

I'd like to "dedicate" this letter to our very own Father Emanuel.  Why?  Well, first of all, Father Emanuel is just awesome, so why not?  Second, because Father Emanuel's birthday is December 25th (that's right, he shares Jesus' birthday!).  And, third, because we hear the name Emmanuel mentioned in our readings this 4th Sunday of Advent and on Christmas.  Isaiah prophecies, "the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel" (Isaiah 7:14), and Matthew repeats this passage.

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Don't Be Captive to Impatience

Fr. James, Deacon Dolan, Deacon Ryan, and servers on the third Sunday of Advent.

Letters from a Pastor to His People- December 15, 2019

Dear Parishioners,

I want to say a few things about our second reading, and not only because it's a letter from my namesake, but because the very important topic of patience is addressed.  "You too must be patient," says Saint James.  "Take as an example of hardship and patience, brothers and sisters, the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord."

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Repent and Live Authentically

Letters from a Pastor to His People- December 8, 2019

Dear Parishioners,

John the Baptist was a man who was anything but superficial.  He wasn't into appearances or externals. He lived in his Cousin's shadow his whole life, and it didn't bother him one bit.  John was a "no-nonsense" kinda guy.   If you're a person who struggles with appearances and 'keeping up with the Joneses', then perhaps you could think of praying with John.

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The Spiritual Life for Advent

Father James with SJS students lighting the first Advent candle for Hope

Letters from a Pastor to His People- December 1, 2019

Dear Parishioners,

Many spiritual writers speak of Advent as a time of purification and penance.  This is why we invoke purple, a color of mourning.  Let me quote from an old spiritual treatise, The Spiritual Life by Adolphe Tanquerey:

The Church invites us to meditate upon the threefold coming of Christ: His advent upon earth through the Incarnation, His entrance into the souls of men through grace, and His appearance at the end of time to judge all mankind. It is chiefly upon the first coming that the Church centers our attention: she recalls to us the longings of the Patriarchs and Prophets, in order to make us long with them for the coming of the promised redeemer and the establishment or strengthening of His Kingdom in our souls. This is, then, a time of holy desires and ardent supplications, a time when we ask God to pour down upon us the dew of grace, and, above all, the Redeemer Himself...these holy desires and penitential practices evidently tend to purify the soul and thus prepare it for the reign of Christ.

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Yipee!

St. Juliana Cancer Support Group

Letters from a Pastor to His People- November 17, 2019

Dear Parishioners,

At first glance, you might look at these readings and not have a warm, fuzzy feeling.  They might not appear very consoling to you.  "Lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven...We hear that some are conducting themselves among you in a disorderly way...There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place...You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death...You will be hated by all because of my name..."

Yipee.     

Yes, it is actually, 'yipee.'  At least it is 'yipee' to me, and not because I'm a masochist.  I take consolation in these readings because they affirm to me how awesome Jesus was and how, once again, the most important thing is our soul and not any material object.

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Because We Love God!

Saint Juliana School recently went to Feed My Starving Children to pack meals for the poor.

Letters from a Pastor to His People- November 10, 2019

Dear Parishioners,

Why would the seven brothers, along with their mother, undergo horrible tortures unto their death?  Because they love God.

Why would some people, as our Lord says in today's Gospel, "neither marry nor be given in marriage?"  Same answer.  Because they love God. 

Now, I know our Lord is describing the afterlife.  That is, he is saying we will not be married to our spouse anymore when we are in Heaven.  In Heaven we are all "married."  We are all swept up in love in the communion of saints, and that love is greater than any love we could ever experience on this earth. 

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Confronted By Jericho

Congratulations SJS athletics on good fall seasons

Letters from a Pastor to His People- November 3, 2019

Dear Parishioners,

We have been reading for several weeks now the "travel narrative"—Jesus' journey towards Jerusalem after the conclusion of his Galilean ministry.  This week we read about his stop in Jericho, a town about twenty miles outside Jerusalem. 

Herod the Great had built up Jericho and Herod's son, Archelaus, erected a massive palace and was currently living in it.  Jericho was, therefore, somewhat of an abject city.  Proof of this is that the chief tax collector of the entire region, Zacchaeus, made his residence there.  Zacchaeus was fairly immoral.  Tax collectors were generally dishonest, and Zacchaeus even more so.  Ironically, the name Zacchaeus meant "pure."  I'm sure tax payers and even fellow tax collectors scoffed whenever they saw the short man and heard his name.

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Cor Ad Cor Loquitur

Fr. James with a toddler in a Baby Priest Halloween costume
 

Letters from a Pastor to His People- October 27, 2019

Dear Parishioners,

John Henry Newman was canonized a saint two weekends ago by Pope Francis.  Newman was an English priest from the 19th Century.  Originally an Anglican, he converted to Catholicism and was later in life made a Cardinal in the Church.  He was (and still is) an intellectual giant, writing very influential texts such as Essay on the Grammar of Assent and his spiritual autobiography called Apologia Pro Vita Sua.  For a few years he was rector of the Catholic University of Ireland, which led him to write The Idea of a University.  Catholic student centers at various universities around the country are called "Newman Centers" because of this.  I'll be forever grateful to the Newman Center of my alma mater, which helped my faith and ultimately led me to the priesthood.

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Prayer is a Battle

Father James at Regina High School with the SJS alumni

Letters from a Pastor to His People- October 20, 2019

Dear Parishioners,

The Old Testament has so many great images of prayer, and particularly military images, which I like since I enjoy studying military history.  The Books of Joshua and Judges are particularly interesting.  For instance, there is Joshua's defeat of Jericho, which is done simply by having his army march around the outer walls seven times on seven consecutive days and then finally blowing a trumpet (cf. Joshua 6).  Or the story of Gideon, who, with only three hundred soldiers carrying empty jars with torches inside them, defeats the Midianite army that was "as numerous as locusts" (Judges 7:12).  In the first reading this Sunday we have the conquest of the Amalekites because Moses, overlooking the battle from a mountaintop, keeps his arms literally raised in the air.

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